From the Nov.-Dec. 2010 issue of News & Letters:
Hero’s welcome for Ahmadinejad
Anyone still holding illusions about Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, as a genuine freedom fighter should have had them shattered by the hero’s welcome his organization offered Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last month. Ahmadinejad is executing revolutionaries and fighters for freedom while attempting to crush any vestiges of democracy in Iran.
In the words of women’s rights activist Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, “From the very first night after the election coup, the suppressors have implemented a far-reaching project to destroy civil society which they believe to be the real organizers of the Green Movement.”
It is also the regime’s fear–as a capitalist theocracy–that protests of women, youth, and workers will develop to challenge religion and capitalism themselves. This has led Ahmadinejad’s regime to the arrests, beating and killing of countless oppositionists, and the general understanding of the nature of Iran’s regime should hinder his influence in the region.
However, Ahmadinejad did speak to large crowds in the Lebanese village of Bint Jbail, rebuilt with Iranian money after being devastated by Israeli bombs in the 2006 war in which 1,100 people were killed–mostly Lebanese civilians. As Nasrallah declared via video that Israel should be “wiped out of existence,” the Israeli Right may have felt well pleased with the spectacle.
Lebanese events help the government of Prime Minister Netanyahu increase its fostered atmosphere of neo-McCarthyist style attacks on the Israeli Left, along with the brutal crackdown on the latest nonviolent Palestinian resistance in the West Bank and the continuing murderous blockade of Gaza.
The leader of the rabidly pro-settler Yisrael Beitenu party, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, may be more reactionary than Netanyahu. He places peace with Palestinians so far in the future as to mean “never.” He proposed the hideous loyalty oath requiring Arab Israeli citizens and non-Jews who immigrate to Israel to declare loyalty to it as a Jewish and democratic state–as if to declare a state “democratic” makes it so; as if a theocracy could actually be “democratic.”
The regimes of Israel and Iran, through rhetorical threats and influence-buying, are trying to keep the politics of the region warped within the influence of their little Cold War. It is an insane gamble. But the masses who rose against Ahmadinejad’s election fraud remain as restive as ever; and Netanyahu’s threats and brutality will only succeed in arousing firmer opposition both within Israel and outside. This is seen in the growing movement to break the Gaza blockade, the refusal of many Israeli artists to perform in the occupied territories, and the newest movements of resistance in the West Bank which have brought Palestinians together with Israeli and other activists.
–G.E. and T.M.